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A CAPOW Portrait

There are dimensions out there. Pockets of reality that differ in complex and intricate ways. They are lines, floating in the super-dimensional ether of reality. There are an infinite number of dimensions and you're bound to have some realities intersect. In fact, they all intersect. At a single point. This point, at which all dimensions cross and become one, is called Capow.

In this cross-dimensionl intersection lies a bar of sorts, called the Lurker's Retreat. It's a gathering place for all kinds of people. Cyborgs, elves, even gods. With all the different types of people gathering at one point in all of reality, you'd expect things to explode.

At the Lurker's Retreat, things did.

"QUIET!" Madoka screamed, standing on top of her bar. The infinite wall of sake wobbled slightly. The room became deathly silent for about three seconds before the talking continued.

"Where's onii-san?" Jinx wondered aloud, Silber perched on her shoulder. She stood on tiptoes, trying to see over people's heads.

She waded through the sea of people. It was ridiculously crowded at the bar today. Fortunately, she knew almost everyone here. She spotted a familiar face. "Jerry-san!" she called out to the Straussian duke. "Have you seen Joseph?"

"I'm sorry Jinx," he apologized, "I haven't. Have you dear?" He turned to his wife Marie. The black haired woman shook her head.

Elyssa manouvered skillfully through the people idling around the Retreat. She was dressed in her waitress apron and held a tray high above her head. "Coming through!" she piped, trying to get to her destination. "Excuse me! Sumimasen!" Finally, she arrived at the table where a short, red haired elf sat with a large menacing man with a big sword. "Here's your drink, Katt!"

"Thanks," the elf-mechanic said, taking the glass of water from the girl. "Sorry, but I was really thirsty."

"It's okay, it's my job. I just wish there weren't so many people."

"What the hell are we all doing here anyway?" complained Dachend. His sword, Dracho'xian was propped against the wall, but kept an open eye on the scene. "I got better things to do than being at some pansy-ass gathering."

"Oh geez Dachend," said Dracho, "show some enthusiasm!"

Katt gave a sidelong glance. "Yeah Dachend, loosen up a bit. Or else."

"Or else?" repeated Dachend. "Or else what?"

She grinned. "Or else I'll dance with you."

Dachend's face changed slightly. "I don't fucking dance."

Katt laughed.

Elyssa decided to return back to the bar when she bumped into a figure. "Oops, I'm sorry--oh." She stared right at Kimiko's face.

The Chobetsu field agent stared back with a blank expression. Instead of saying a word, she walked off to her usual table. Elyssa sighed audibly and headed back to Madoka.

Kimiko sat down. Tonight was different. She didn't have her laptop and she didn't feel like any tea. She wasn't here to work. She looked around the room. Lots of people, she noted. Lots of lots of people. It looked like a party.

A shadow covered over her. She looked up and saw it was Namida Samui. "Konbanwa Kimiko-san," she greeted.

"Evenin'" Kimiko said.

Samui took an unbidden seat at the table. She observed the crowd of people just as interestedly.

"I take it she called you here too."

Samui nodded in her usual manner.

"I wonder why Madoka wanted us all here?"

Samui shrugged slightly and remained silent, as she usually did. Kimiko drummed her fingers on the table. This was boring.

Suddenly, gunfire sounded through the establishment. Kimiko reacted immediately, pulling out her pistol. A few others around her jumped with equal quickness, drawing swords and other weapons. She followed the source of the shots to two men, standing on the bar. One was incredibly tall, with blond haired tied in a pony tail, wearing sunglasses. The other was just shorter, by almost a foot. He wore a military uniform.

Ryan and Tarsax put their weapons away. "Now that we got your attention," Ryan said. "First off, sorry about that." He knew firing a weapon in a room full of Capow regulars could be potentially.. disastrous.

Madoka climbed back up to the bar, now that she had the full attention of the crowd. "Well, about time, eh?"

"What's going on Mads?" a voiced ask.

"Glad you asked, Ace," she responded to the short mailman. Then addressing the rest, she said, "I guess you're all wondering why I gathered you here."

A general agreement was said by all. A distinctive, "Fuckin yea!" was added by Dachend.

"Well, if you all just SHUT UP!" she said forcefully and the crowd got the message. She continued, "You're all here, for a picture."


"I'm here for this?"

"I got things to do Madoka!"

Madoka's eyebrows furrowed in frustration. "LOOK! You guys come in here day in and day out. You buy drinks, you relax and unwind. Some of you pay your tab, some of you don't." Her gaze drifted to Ace. "Anyway, we all share something in common. HERE! And I want to put something on the wall so we can remember. And the best thing is a group photo. Now c'mon folks, this is gonna be quick. The faster we get organized, the faster you guys can go back to whatever it is you wanted to do." She hopped off the bar and watched.

Slowly but surely, the mass of Retreat regulars began gathering at one end of the bar. Dachend refused to budge, however. Katt quickly remedied the situation by blowing a wolf-whistle and motioning everyone to gather by her table. Dachend swore loudly.

Madoka hopped off the bar and tried to help in the organizing. "Okay, umm.. Susano, you should stand near the back."

"Er.. umm.. where's Jinx going to be?"

The bartender rolled her eyeballs upwards in annoyance. "Oh hell, Jinx!" she called. The girl bounced over, Silber still perched on her shoulder. "Okay Jinx, umm.. stand here," she said casually placing her beside Susano.

Jinx looked up and saw her handsome friend. "Susano!"

"Er.. hi Jinx," he said shyly. The two continued their conversation in much the same way.

"Okay, Ryan, you're DEFINITELY going in the back," ordered Madoka. "In fact, go stand behind your buddy Dachend. Miko, stand next to Tarsax."

The SDF Junior lieutenant looked towards Ryan's direction wistfully. Then she saw Madoka's cross expression and smiled cheerfully. Her 5'10" height made her slightly taller than Tarsax. The two, in their uniforms looked a splendid offset, Madoka noted. Miko smiled at Tarsax and greeted, "Hi shorty."

"You two be nice," Madoka warned and walked off to see who else needed arranging. Then, she realized something. "Hey, Rekishi! Get the camera would ya?"

The rugged drifter gulped noticeably. "You want me?"

Madoka nodded. "Yeah yeah! It's behind the cashier. Go and get, okay?"

Rekishi stalked off, staff in hand. Madoka looked around some more. "Okay, umm.. Doc Feelgood."

"Yeez? Vat iz it?"

"Umm.. why don't you stand next to Ryan?"

"Dat is no problem." He took his position next to the tall cyborg. "Ah Herr Ryan, how are ve doing tonight?"

"Not bad, Doc," Ryan replied.

"Gud, gud.. Nurse Jones! Come here!"

The short red-head in her nurse uniform bounded over quickly. "Yes doctor?" she asked in her professional voice.

"Pleaze ztand here."

"Hey, that's good," Madoka applauded verbally. She felt a tapping behind her.

"I got the camera," Rekishi said, holding a pocket computer.

"NO! That's my palm pilot!! I wanted the camera! You know what a camera is don't you?"

Rekishi stepped back, holding a hand out. "Hey, take it easy. Sorry!"

"I think you want this," a man in a bright yellow coat said.

"Geez, thanks Stuart," Madoka said, catching the camera as he tossed it.

Hunter Stuart grinned. "Be glad I'm not charging a finder's fee. C'mon Rekishi." he consoled the technologically-challenged drifter, grabbing themselves a spot near the back row.

Madoka kept looking around. "Okay, good Kimiko and Samui, you two stay there. Ah! Jana! Okay, let's put you here in the front." The silent girl nodded and took her place.

"Hey Mads!" Kubo Grey shouted. "Where should I go?"

"Kubo!" Madoka greeted the hacker. "By the way, can we dump this photo into your server? I wanna make some enhanced copies to send out on IRC."

"No problem!" He ran his hand through his spiky hair. "Am I looking okay?"

"Like a million bucks," Madoka replied quickly and motioned to where he should stand. "Okay, is that everyone?" She looked around and saw that the group was completely organized and ready for the shot.

Grabbing the tripod behind her bar, she set it up and placed the camera on top. As she checked the focus through the lens, Jinx called out, "Madoka-san! Where are Joseph and Anne?"

She looked up from the lens. Everyone looked around but the two could not be seen. Suddenly, as if summoned by Jinx's inquiry, the swinging doors of the bar smashed open and in raced Joseph, screaming, "YOU UNCUTE, SEXLESS TOMBOY!!"

Immediately after him, Anne raced in, mallet in both her hands, ready to bop him on the head. "BAKA!!"

The group went in an uproar, laughing and chuckling. Anne chased Joseph around a few tables until finally Madoka stepped between the two.

"Excuse me!" she said through her teeth angrily. "But we're trying to have a picture here!" Anne piku'd. Joseph sweatdropped. Madoka grabbed Joseph by the collar and dragged him to one end of the shot. "You! Stay here!" Then, she led Anne forcefully by her wrist to the opposite side of the shot. "You! Not a single peep!" The two glanced at eachother confusedly.

Madoka huffed and checked the shot again. Seeing everything was in order, she selected the automatic countdown feature and quickly took her place, kneeling in front of Kimiko.

The camera began it's blinking sequence. The red light blinked long intervals then shorter and shorter. Finally it stopped. And the flash went off.

"I think I blinked! Can we do another shot?"

"Yo, I gotta go now!"

"Joseph, we're not finished! Get back here!!"

"Silber, stop pecking at Susano!!"

"RYAAAAN!? Where are you?"

"Ugh.. where's the washroom? I feel sick."




"Goddammit ##*&#($&*@(#*(!!!!"

"AIEEE!!! Who grabbed my butt!"

Madoka sighed and shook her head.

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